“I thank you for your kind feeling towards me, Mr. Hunkins, but I must go to Fredericton. The case is just this. I knew, before I came to Miramichi, that the government was not particularly favorable to dissenting ministers, and also that the Assembly had passed this law. But I had heard of the condition of this people and felt constrained to come here, by my desire to serve Christ, my Master and my King. By so doing, I took all the risks in the case. Now, if I, for conscience’s sake, have violated an unjust law, I am willing to pay the penalty. I have not wittingly done harm to any of His Majesty’s subjects, or endeavored to draw them away from their loyalty. I will therefore go with the messenger to Fredericton and meet this charge. I am not afraid of what evil-minded men can do unto me”.
“That is right, Mr. Norton”, exclaimed Adele, who had been listening attentively to his words. “Will you not go with him, father?”
After a moment’s meditation, Mr. Dubois replied, “If it is Mr. Norton’s wish. I have a friend who is a member of the Assembly. A favorable statement of the case from him, would doubtless have much weight with the jury”.
“Thank you, sir, thank you. Such an arrangement would doubtless be of great service to me. I should be exceedingly grateful for it”.
Micah, who had been hitherto a quiet listener to the colloquy, now gave a short, violent cough, and said, “Captin’, it’s kinder queer I should happen to hev an arrand reound to Fredericton to-morrow. But I’ve jest thought that as long as I’m a goin’ to be in the place, I might as well step in afore the jury and say what I know abeout the case”.
“Thank you, Micah. I believe you have been present whenever I have discoursed to our friends, and know precisely what I have said to them”.
“Well, I guess I dew, pooty nigh”.
The affair being thus arranged, the party separated.
Mr. Norton informed the messenger of his intention, early in the morning, to depart with him for Fredericton.
He then retired to his room, spent an hour in reflecting upon the course he had adopted, examined faithfully the motives that influenced him, and finally came to the conclusion that he was in the right path. He firmly believed God had sent him to Miramichi to preach the gospel, and resolved that he would not be driven from thence by any power of men or evil spirits. He then committed himself to the care of the Almighty Being, and slept securely under the wing of his love.
In the mean time, there was a high breeze of excitement blowing through the settlement, the people taking up the matter and making common cause with Mr. Norton. He seemed to have fairly won their good will, although he had not yet induced them, except in a few instances, to reform their habits of life. They ventilated their indignation against the unfortunate clergyman of the parish of ——, in no measured terms.